We’re often asked questions, and we ask a lot ourselves. It’s a good way to start thinking about a story. But questions have other uses too, and here we’ve tried to answer some of those we’re asked most frequently.

1. How can I help?

There are lots of ways you can get involved at the Ministry. You can join our writing workshops as a Story Minister, Illustrator or by playing the role of the ‘Chief’. If you’re brave enough, you can also serve monsters at Hoxton Street Monster Supplies.

2. What else can I do?

We’re always on the look out for professionals looking to provide their skills ‘in kind’. Right now we’re particularly interested in the areas of PR, marketing, fundraising or event management.

Looking to support our young people in other ways? Find out more about making a monthly or one off donation. You can also join us on Facebook and Twitter and help spread the word.

3. I am not an EU resident, am I eligible to volunteer?

Non EU residents can volunteer if you have the right to work or study in the UK and have a visa that allows you to undertake ‘unpaid work’ or volunteering. If you are unsure on the terms of your Visa you should contact the issuer to clarify.

4. How old do I have to be to volunteer?

If you aged 16 or older, you can volunteer in workshops as a Story Minister or Illustrator. If you are aged 18 and over, you can volunteer in any role within the Ministry.

5. When do workshops take place and how long do they normally last?

Most workshops take place weekdays between 9am – 5pm. We also run a weekly Saturday morning club.

Workshops normally last 2 – 3 hours including a half hour briefing and debrief session either side.

6. What are the shop opening hours?

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies is open Tuesday – Friday 1pm – 5pm and Saturday 11am – 5pm (a shift will start and end 15-minutes either side of opening times) . There are also occasional ‘pop up’ store events, outside of these hours.

7. What is the commitment for new volunteers?

We ask that new volunteers commit to a minimum of six sessions, in the first six months. This can be completed across different workshops and within different roles.

It costs us around £500 to train a new volunteer, which is why we ask for a regular commitment in return.

Please be aware that our Saturday morning workshops are very popular and often get booked up quickly.

8. I can only volunteer on Saturdays, will I be able to make that commitment?

If you are only able to volunteer on Saturdays, please make sure you are able to commit to six Saturdays sessions within the the first six months before registering as a volunteer.

We are a registered charity (Registered Charity No. 1138553) so if your employer has a paid volunteer programme you may be able to use your entitlement to volunteer at the Ministry.

9. How do I register as a volunteer?

To apply to become a Ministry volunteer, please fill out our volunteer registration form. We will then get in touch within a week to invite you along to an Introduction and Training session. Before completing the form, please check you are eligible to volunteer with us.

10. What kind of training is there for volunteers?

We provide full training to all new volunteers. Whatever your role, we make sure you have the knowledge and skills to get the most out our your time with us.

Once you’ve registered, you will be invited to an introduction and training session which will cover:

– the history and mission of the Ministry

– mentoring techniques

– how to get the best out of young writers

– behaviour management and safeguarding

– an introduction to Hoxton Street Monster Supplies

We also discuss what you would like to get out of volunteering and explore the other roles on offer such as illustrator and the Chief.

11. How do I book/cancel a shop shift or workshop session?

To book a shift, simply log onto the website and choose the sessions you would like to attend via our online calendar.

We understand that sometimes you will need to cancel a shift. Please try and give as much notice as possible. If you are unable to attend a session by please call us immediately on 020 7729 4159.

12. Why do I need to be DBS certified to volunteer at the Ministry of Stories?

DBS checks are in the interest of child safety and in line with our child safeguarding policy which is covered in detail during our introduction and training session.

All workshop volunteers must have a current enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring service) certificate in order to volunteer. If you have registered online via the DBS Update Service, we can accept certificates for other organisations. If you have received a certificate from another organisation which is not registered online, you have up to 19 days from the date of issue to register it.

Volunteers who only intend to work in the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies shop do not require a DBS certificate.

13. I was unable to complete my DBS application at the training. When can I come back to finish it?

You can drop into one of our DBS clinics on Mondays 1pm – 2pm or Saturdays 2pm– 3pm.

Alternatively, you can contact volunteers@ministryofstories.org to arrange a convenient time. Please ensure you bring your completed DBS form and a valid combination of ID documents to verify your identity, as set out in the DBS Checklist.

14. How long will it take for my DBS application to be processed and how do I track its progress?

You will normally receive your certificate back within 4 – 6 weeks, assuming all is in order. If you registered your application online, you can track its progress on the DBS website or by calling 0870 90 90 811.

Please note that only the person named on the form can make enquiries on a DBS application. Once your certificate is issued, it will be sent to your home address.

15. I have a criminal conviction, should I declare when completing my DBS form?

You can find more information on spent convictions and whether you’re required to declare a conviction on the DBS website.

If you have a conviction and you’re not sure whether it will affect your eligibility to volunteer, please contact us to arrange a discussion in confidence by emailing volunteers@ministryofstories.org or calling 020 7729 4159.

16. What does safeguarding involve?

Whereas ‘child protection’ literally means protecting children from abuse and neglect, ‘safeguarding’ focuses on building an environment where the welfare of children and young people is actively promoted.  This helps children and young people to achieve their full potential and ensures that they are safe and adequately cared for.

Our safeguarding policy is covered in detail during your introduction and training session. You can request a copy of our volunteer policy, which covers the key points, by emailing volunteers@ministryofstories.org

17. Why are references required for me to volunteer and when are the forms sent to me?

References are required as part of our safeguarding policy and to make sure you are suitable for the role. Referees must be:

– a friend who has known you for five years or more

and either:

– a past or current employer, who has known you for twelve months or

– an academic referee.

You can raise any concerns about references at your Introduction and Training session after which you will also receive your blank reference forms. If you have completed the training and need blank copies of the forms you can download them here:

– Personal Reference Form

– Professional Reference Form

18. How do I check if my references have been received?

You can check whether your references have been received by contacting us on 020 7729 4159 or emailing volunteers@ministryofstories.org

19. I am a workshop volunteer, how do I book onto my first workshop?

You can book onto your first workshop one we’ve seen your DBS certificate and received your references.

Firstly, check the online calendar to see which workshops and roles are available. Once you have found a session please call 020 7729 4159 or email volunteers@ministryofstories.org to book. If a session is fully booked it will be marked FULL.

If your first session is at the Ministry, you will need to arrive ten minutes early with your DBS certificate and photo ID. If your first session is off-site please call us to arrange a convenient time to have your documents checked.

Once you have presented your DBS certificate and photo ID you will be able to book yourself onto future sessions via the calendar.

20. I am a shop volunteer, how do I book onto my first shift?

You can begin volunteering at the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies as soon as you have completed an Introduction session, a shadow shift and we have received your references.

Please call 020 7729 4159 or email volunteers@ministryofstories.org to check your references, arrange a shadow shift or book onto your first shift.

21. What does the volunteer policy cover and how can I obtain a copy?

Our volunteer policy covers everything you need to know about volunteering at the Ministry including safeguarding, standards and our mission as a charity.

If you would like a copy of the volunteer policy, please email volunteers@ministryofstories.org

22. I am a teacher, how do I book onto a writing workshop for my class?

We are currently only able to offer writing workshops to schools within the boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Islington. If your school is within this area, please email schools@ministryofstroies.org with:

– the name and location of the school

– the class age group

– the number of children in the clas

– the desired date of the workshop

– your name, email and phone number.

We will aim to get back to you within 7-days of receiving your email. Alternatively you can call the Ministry of Stories on 020 7729 4159.

23. I work with a group of young people, do you run projects outside school time?

If you are involved with a youth centre or community group in Hackney, Tower Hamlets or Islington and you are interested in making a workshop booking please email community@ministryofstories.org with:

– the age range of the group

– the number of children

– the name and location of the centre

– the desired date of the workshop

– your name, email and phone number.

We will aim to get back to you within 7-days of receiving your email. Alternatively you can call the Ministry of Stories on 020 7729 4159.